Shop of the Year - O’Mahony's Butchers
Every visit to Katherine O’Mahony’s family butcher’s stall in Cork’s English Market is a masterclass in meat. Spider’s cut, anyone? What about La Poire de Boeuf (The Pear cut) for your dinner? Or the Merlan? The expertise of the family is superlative, their ability to offer the unusual and exotic is unmatched – buffalo; goat meat; rosé veal – and their knowledge of what they are selling is simply second-to-none. Their apprentices train for fully four years, so everyone behind the counter is right on top of their game – it takes skill to be able to extricate the spider, merlan and pear cuts from an animal. One of the glories of Cork city.
Online Shop of the Year - Eat More Fish
Stefan Griesbach is a modern Jacques Cousteau, a philosopher-fishmonger who understands and respects the oceans and their bounteous magnificence, and his on-line seafood service, Eat More Fish, is the sort of food venture that actually changes people’s lives. Once you are familiar with the pristine quality of EMF seafood, and its variety and its potential, then your cooking quickly changes to a seafood-first venture. Mr Griesbach makes your life better, and he also does awesomely cool t-shirts.
Artisan Product of the Year - Ardsallagh Phantom
The Murphy family’s goats' cheeses, made on the farm in East Cork, are essential ingredients for every kitchen and table, but we reckon their ash-coated pyramid, which they call Phantom, is the best thing they have ever produced. Phantom is a perfect expression of excellent goat’s milk meeting experienced culinary talent and creativity, and it is disarmingly delicious.
Food of the Year - Achill Sea Salt
The O’Malley family upped their game in every way in 2018. They introduced a superlative smoked sea salt, and switched their packaging of Achill Island Sea Salts to classy, hip, glass jars. A dynamic west coast company that just keeps getting better and better and these salts are simply indispensible items for your cooking and your table. And, speaking of the table, the Achill Island sea salt pinch pot is just the coolest piece of tableware you can buy.
New Product of the Year - Mezze Spice Mixes
Dvir and Nicola’s Mezze foods and flatbreads have enriched our lives for the last few years, but their trio of spice mixes – Baharat; Hawaj and Dukkah – are something else. Every lentil soup needs Hawaj, a Yemeni spice mix. Every egg needs Dukkah. Every kebab needs to be rubbed with Baharat. The three little jars unlock the scents and subtleties of the Middle East like nothing else that you can buy. Inspired and, indeed, inspiring.
Innovator of the Year - Dunnes Stores and Simply Better
The transformation of every aspect of Dunnes Stores over the last several years has been one of the most amazing feats in Irish retailing. A company that once used to pile it high and sell it cheap now offers excellence across every part of their operation. In particular, the transformation of their food stores to encompass the magnificent James Whelan Butchers, Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, Kay O’Connell Fishmongers and Tartine Bread, plus the creation of their estimable Simply Better brand, helmed by Diarmuid Murphy, has been an unprecedented achievement in the Irish supermarket world. Dunnes Stores is a super-cool destination for food lovers: who would have guessed it?
Drinks of the Year - The Banker Beer (alcohol) King of Kefir (non alchol)
Some drinks stop you in your tracks. One sip of The Banker, from Tipperary’s White Gypsy Brewery, will stop you in your tracks, guaranteed. Cuilan Loughnane twists the template of a German wheat beer by the addition of rye malt, and the result is a pure mouth party that hits every pleasure point. Mr Loughnane is one of the most gifted brewers at work in Ireland, and The Banker is a masterpiece. But man needs more than beer – she also needs kefir to maintain her health – and this is where Gerry Scullion’s King of Kefir hits the spot. It’s made in the Chocolate Factory in Dublin, is a water-based kefir, and Gerry’s only problem so far has been keeping up with demand: King of Kefir is right.
Kit of the Year - Joy Stove
A Joy Stove does what it says on the tin: these charcoal stoves are joyful pieces of kit to cook with, and even the most petite size will let you rustle up lots of tasty barby bites, whether grilling or cooking on the annular rings. Best of all, you can carry them easily and use them anywhere.